16 new Dales photos to view

dalesEvery now and then I do something daring – like stepping outside of the Dales and dipping a toe into Lancashire. Hidden deep in the family’s ancestry I found someone called Dilworth, and I wondered where the surname came from. The earliest bearers of the surname sprang from a tiny place called Dilworth just over the Lancashire border near Longridge. The branch I am interested in was recorded during the 1700s at Slaidburn’s St Andrew’s church (pictured below), which is on the correct side of the border (this part of Yorkshire was lent to Lancashire in 1974 for administrative purposes). It’s a grand old church in a lovely spot – a fine resting place for some of the family’s forebears to keep an eye on the Lancastrians. I’ve been tracing our family history on and off for decades now and recently I had one of those Ancestry.com DNA tests done. My basic DNA breakdown shows I’m 62 per cent British, 28 per cent western European and 10 per cent other ethnicity. My British community group is Northern English. Nothing very surprising there then.



That wasn’t the only time I skipped over the border this week. I needed the passport again while doing a little errand for someone near Brough, in Westmorland. I couldn’t resist a visit to the castle (it’s free, so why not?) for a couple of photos…


I returned through the Dales via Tan Hill pub which looked forlorn on the bleak expansive moorland. There were three large military vehicles parked at the pub which made me wonder if they were expecting some further border raids. tanhillinn.com

The clouds were dark above Tan Hill unlike in Ribblesdale. Although clear blue skies brighten up the Dales they don’t always help create interesting photos. I took pictures of the Three Peaks one day and was surprised at the different hue on each one. The wind was biting but without clouds I think the photos lack movement and thus interest. Here are Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside on the day.

I also took plenty of shots in and around Langcliffe this week, including the top photo in the blog… and dozens more, a few here…

Bluebells have appeared in Cleatop Park Wood on the outskirts of Settle… and the trees are budding… but the rivers around the Dales are low and some fields looked parched.

Youngsters on the mill pond

Yorkshire walls of fame

Yorkshire walls2

Looking through the Yorkshire photos in my archive I shouldn’t have been surprised over how many shots feature walls and barns. Foregrounds, backgrounds or the main focus of attention, the skill of the stonemason is often on show. Perhaps there’s something in my genetic make-up – for in among my family history of weavers and farmers is also a long line of stonemasons. But I reckon the reason so many pictures include walls and barns is not down to genes or the volume in the area. It’s down to the fact that they look good: photogenic works of art. A perfect subject for that book I’m going to write or that exhibition I’m going to put on but both of which I’ll never get round to.

Yorkshire walls1

As mentioned in previous blogs, over my years of tramping the Yorkshire Dales I’ve seen an increasing number of barns being left to decay. I’ve noticed a lot more recently that are missing their stone-slate roofs. The slates are probably the most vital part of the barn – both from a protection point of view and that of value. Traditional slates are sold for large sums. Barns are being robbed of the slates by thieves, or sold by the buildings’ owners, or deliberately removed by farmers and stored elsewhere. I’m surprised it’s being allowed to happen, especially in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, as these crumbling buildings make the place look unloved and uncared for.

Yorkshire arten barn

The Yorkshire weather’s been playing good cop/bad cop this week. Pea-sized hailstones clattered the car (pic below), and a wild lightning fork struck a nearby field as I drove down the Slaidburn road towards Clapham on Sunday. I’d been up to Bowland Knotts where I witnessed shafts of sunlight shining over Stocks Reservoir and blue sky over the distant South Pennines. The grouse moors all around changed colour like a kaleidescope, while snow remained visible in the crevices of Ingleborough and Penyghent.

Yorkshire sleet

Yorkshire bowland

Gorse is a feature in this neck of the woods and the bright yellow provided a lovely foreground for the view from a minor road towards both Ingleborough and Penyghent.

Yorkshire gorse
Thursday was one of the ‘good-cop’ days. Ribblehead was packed with sightseers and walkers. I headed further up to capture the view around Arten Gill – there’s never a train around when you want one to bring some action into a shot. Plenty of roofless barns to be seen, however, in these parts (see also third pic in blog).

Yorkshire arten1

Earlier, these sheep at Helwith Bridge mistook me for the farmer and headed towards me expecting to be fed. Yet another derelict barn here.

Yorkshire sheep feed

I stopped off for an hour’s wander around Selside and down to the river. There are some terrific old buildings in the settlement as well as great views up and down Ribblesdale and of the Three Peaks. Grade II listed Top Farm has a dated door lintel stating 1725 but parts of the building are even earlier. The postbox on the old shop bearing the former Settle-Carlisle railway station sign is an early Victorian-style box.

Yorkshire top farm

Yorkshire selside post

Around 60,000 walkers tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks every year whether it be to raise funds for charity or just to say they’ve done the trail. The footfall has taken a toll on the iconic dales mountains, especially on the Swine Tail, the final climb before reaching the summit of Ingleborough from the north. Attempts have been made to fix the path but increased use and wetter winters mean that the best way of solving the problem is to lay stone slabs. It’s a costly business so the Mend Our Mountains campaign has started a crowd-funding appeal. Please help if you can – more details here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/campaign/mend-our-mountains

Yorkshire yellow

Twilight added a yellow glow to my stroll around Winskill. Picture shows the outlines of Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough – oh, and a wall.

Vibrant heart of the Yorkshire Dales

Settle is one of the most vibrant places in the Dales. The brilliant Settle Stories Festival has been on this weekend and later this month the cycling tour of Yorkshire heads this way. There’s much more happening throughout the summer so if you are a visitor or resident please take a look at the 2016 guide to the area – out now with a downloadable or screen version available free from here:

Enjoy the views but pay the dues


Driving up out of High Bentham towards Slaidburn today I had to stop to admire this view back over Wenningdale towards Whernside and Ingleborough. It was such a change to see an all-too-brief glimpse of blue sky. Looking the other way (below) was also a pretty scene (even though I briefly dipped my toes in Lancashire). I called at Stocks Reservoir after Slaidburn and wondered why there were cars parked outside rather than inside the small car park. They’ve started charging, that’s why. For years United Utilities who ‘own’ the land boasted about what lovely people they were in allowing the public to enjoy ‘their’ facilities for free. But now it seems that the profit of £607m the company made last year, much of it through rates we pay for letting them utilise what was once public land given away by government, is not enough. What’s the betting that the next time I visit Stocks there’ll be ugly yellow lines down the country lane along with ‘no parking’ signs.


Flirting with Ashley's mistress


At the weekend I took this photo of a run-down farm high on the hills between Slaidburn and Bentham because the scene reminded me a little of an Ashley Jackson painting. It’s missing a dramatic glowering sky but contains several other elements of his enigmatic work… even down to the poles and power/telephone lines. The moors here are rough and windswept; the buildings show the scars from endless battles against the elements. This area above Stocks Reservoir has more of a feel of Ashley’s South Pennines than the limestone Dales further north, a bridge between the two distinct areas. If you swivel left of this view you can usually see Ingleborough peeking between the hills which guard the infant river Hodder in its steep sided valley. A minor road snakes through this dale like some mini Alpine pass. On clear days, to the west you can pick out the beginnings of the industrial areas of Lancashire… so the less said about that the better. Ashley describes Yorkshire’s moors as his mistress… hope he doesn’t mind me flirting with her a little here.
PS I  can recommend a visit to Ashley Jackson’s Gallery in Holmfirth – see www.ashley-jackson.co.uk (and no, we’re not related. Although, come to think of it,  we’re both short with grey hair… and my dad did have a bike…)

(I played around with the picture in Photoshop to create more of a watercolour effect.)

Beating the Dales traffic


It’s that time of year when I make my first sighting of the greater-spotted caravaner  (tardus progressio) along the A65 near home. On Bank Holidays I tend to dip into my repertoire of back roads in order to find a quiet drive, a short walk and a nice pint. Good Friday was far from good on the main Dales roads so I ventured off the main route to the Lakes, down to Bentham and followed the narrow road over the moors to Slaidburn. I took in the scene over the Three Peaks and Gragareth from that enormous and weird Great Stone of Fourstones (pictured) before tackling the winding way over the tops. In places, roadside snowdrifts hung precariously over the car roof, while on the bleak moors the fierce wind had created crazy snow patterns amongst the tufts and the walls. A sharpish walk beside the river in Slaidburn helped ease the guilt of spending most of the day on my backside then it was off to Tosside for a welcome pint.

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